Jul 3, 2013

How do we talk to little girls?


"What a beautiful dress", "You look so beautiful", "You are so cute", "look at your beautiful hair", "such a gorgeous little princess" and countless comments that focus merely on appearances rather then intellect. I am guilty. Very guilty of this. I have done it to my daughter, and to countless other little girls I have met.

My Daughter Lujain
Quite frankly isn't it what we are supposed to say to little girls? When saying it, it all sounds so right, these are the kind of words we are conditioned to repeat when we come across little girls. The problem is it can be seriously lead to her growing up and thinking that those are the only things she should strive for. My younger brother long ago told me that I should not only focus on appearances such "as you are beautiful" when  I am paying my daughter a compliment. He has reminded me often that I should focus more on her intellect. Talking about who she is inside, her achievements, her accomplishments, reminding her that she is a smart little girl instead of focusing on the 'princessy' dresses she still loves making her grow up to think that beauty trumps brains.

My 5 year old daughter has requested I put make up on her when seeing me applying it to myself, and I have obliged with a little lipstick or a little blush without giving it a second thought. It didn't cross my mind that I was teaching my daughter that she needed makeup to be more beautiful- but seriously, when I put a little lipstick on her, and she looks in the mirror and now thinks that image is what beauty is- I have made a pretty big mistake. In all honesty, this parenting thing is really hard. What we do, what we say, is really very important. It can impact our children more then we can ever imagine. I know it will not be easy, but I need to show my daughter what real beauty is. It is not the mask we cover our true self with, but rather being happy and comfortable with who we are. Being able to converse, and discuss a topic. Complimenting her on her achievements instead of her looks. It won't be easy, because to be perfectly honest, its is so deep-seeded in me, that I will probably still pay her physical compliments- because I do want her to know that she is amazing just as she is. I must also remember to fully engage with her in a real discussion, showing her how beautiful her brain is in addition to anything else. To let her understand that what she has to say or add to a conversation is important. I really hope that I can do this right. As I said before, and will say countless times, this parenting thing is hard, and very tricky. But is truly the most important job in the world.

I will leave you with the excerpt of an article I read yesterday that really spoke to me,

"Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments."


The link to the entire article is here How to talk to little girls



4 comments:

  1. What a great reminder, not just for mothers of daughters but for everyone! I read this as my daughter was asleep, looking so BEAUTIFUL. But of course I'm going to tell her shes many other things when she wakes up inshallah. Mashallah Your brother must be a great guy to remind you of something so important and profound. :)

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    1. Thank you dear. He really is il7amdlilah. It's so simple to forget these simple things, but if we just try to remind ourselves.. I am sure we can raise amazing, smart, and -yes- beautiful girls (kids in general) inside out <3

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  2. This is a post which is really touching me. I read the same article "How to talk to little girls" and an article about it on "A CUP OF JO" (a blog).

    I also talked about this subject myself into my own tumblr : http://muslima-nadjoua.tumblr.com/post/51913923975/source-a-cup-of-jo-how-to-talk-to-little-girls

    Since, I am trying my best to ask first to a little girl what is her favourite book or favorite dish. And I bite my lips to not say : oooooh you such a little heart ! (or whatever)

    The result ? Nice conversations as Johanna of "A cup of Jo" noticed it. Right away the dialogue you will have with this little girl will turn into the next level. Effectively, talking about beauty let the conversation on a really superficial level but book and food always create original talks.

    So I try to keep going that way :)

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    1. I agree with you. It is beautiful to just converse with them, see whats really going on in their heads... its better then the superficial talks we are trained to engage in. I must say that my friend Nicole from http://thesamerainbowsend.com/, does this all the time. When she talks to my daughter, she talks to her like a regular person, not kiddy chat... and I see the sparkle in my daughters eye when she isn't being shushed and what she has to say is of some importance. It's beautiful.

      Thank you for passing by, and I will be sure to check out both your link and Johanna's link as well.

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